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FG raids seven illegal loan companies

At least seven digital lending companies operating in Ikeja, Lagos were raided in a joint operation by the Federal Competition Consumer Protection Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission, the Agency National Information Technology Development and Nigerian Police.

Among the companies raided were GoCash, Okash, EasyCredit, Kashkash, Speedy Choice and Easy Moni.

The operation led by FCCPC boss Babatunde Irukera followed several complaints of alleged wrongdoing by lenders.

Speaking at the raid, Irukera said customers had accused financial institutions of violating their privacy in their debt collection campaign, adding that the agency had been investigating the allegations since 2020.

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He said: “This information started quite a long time ago. A while back when the country was in lockdown in 2020 due to the pandemic, we started to see an increase in pawnshops.

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“Because there was a lockdown due to the pandemic, people needed a small, easy loan, which is understandable. But over time, people started complaining about poor lender practices, so we started tracking them.

“Towards the end of last year, we gathered quite a bit of information. We started working with other key agencies and the FCCPC led the meeting, where we all agreed that there would be a joint effort to review these companies.

According to Irukera, the interest rate charged by online lenders seems to violate the ethics of how loans are made.

“The two main areas of concern were what appears to be the violation of people’s confidentiality in relation to how these lenders collect their loans.

“Second, the interest rate seems to be an ethical breach of how loans are made. So those are the two things we looked for.

“We have therefore launched an investigation to try to determine the location of these companies. It was a very difficult thing. We have been doing this for several months and some of them have moved from place to place and we have been visiting these places for months,” he said.

Irukera also said investigations revealed that the companies were neither Nigerian companies nor registered in the country.

“We discovered that most of these companies operate from the same location. We also discovered that many of them are actually operated by the same person. They are not Nigerian companies, they do not have an address in Nigeria and they are not registered in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission and they have no license to do their business,” he said. he declares.

Irukera added that the agency had written to global app companies asking them to suspend online banking operations.

He said: “Basically what they have is an app, and so we started collecting more information about them. We engaged the public and the people, who had been their victims. They gave us more information.

“As we got more information, we had enough evidence to convince the court to issue a warrant for us to investigate a search and seizure. And last month a court issued a warrant and in the meantime and now we were planning an undercover operation, that’s what you see here today. The reason is that we wanted to be sure to reach the place where we could get a lot.

“In addition to what you see here today, the FCCPC also issued several orders today. Two of them are for vendors: Apple and Google stores, where some of these apps are available. We asked them to close the apps of these companies so that people would not be victimized again.Secondly, some of them (the orders) went to the bank, asking them to freeze the accounts used by these people.

“I must add however that not all money lenders operate illegally and that is why it took us some time to track these people.

“It also doesn’t mean that the people we’re suing today are the only ones, no. We want to start with them. We also understand that it is about five to seven companies operating in the same place. »

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